JAPAN: Osaka Castle and Shitennoji Temple

Osaka Japan Osaka CastleWe always knew that when you are in Japan and someone told you that your destination is pretty near and walkable, expect it to be far. This is very true since Japanese people are really used to walking far. Some of their train stations are big and when you need to transfer from one platform to the next, you can walk for up to a mile. When we were in Tokyo, we were told that the pier where we alighted the waterbus from Odaiba(Hinode Pier) is near JR's Hamamatsucho Station. Next thing we know, we have walked for about a mile. But still, this is nothing compared to the experience we had in Osaka.

Osaka Japan Shitennoji Temple From our hotel near Dotonbori, we wanted to go to Osaka Castle and on our way there, we will have to stop at Tennoji station and transfer to a different line. Since we found out on our research that Shitennoji Temple is near Tennoji Station, we decided to drop by the temple as well. It is allegedly a kilometer away from the station so we tried to navigate the streets to get there by foot. It was summertime early September so we were walking under the scorching sun. As we were walking, we asked 3 different bystanders(we speak a little Nihongo/Japanese) and all of them said we were on the right path towards the temple. It felt like we have walked for a couple of kilometers already but still no Shitennoji Temple on sight. Maybe it was the sun or we had just eaten a heavy Omurice lunch or the fact that we were walking uphill so it felt like we've walked a lot farther than the actual distance. After about 40 minutes of walking, we finally got to the temple.

Osaka Japan Shitennoji TempleShitennoji Temple is the oldest Buddhist Temple in Japan. Since the temple is in Osaka and not in Tokyo, it is not the most popular Buddhist Temple in Japan. That honor goes to Asakusa's Kannon Temple in Tokyo. We have been to Asakusa's Kannon Temple just 5 months before we saw Shitennoji Temple so it is hard not to compare the differences and similarities of the two Buddhist Temples. Asakusa's Kannon Temple is definitely more eye-catching than Shitennoji Temple, largely because of the giant lantern at the gates of Asakusa's Kannon Temple.

Osaka Japan Shitennoji Temple
The same statues are found in Asakusa Kannon Temple
There were a lot of people, mostly tourists, in Asakusa's Kannon Temple when we were there and they were all taking pictures of the whole place including the main altar. It was not crowded when we were in Shitennoji Temple and it is not allowed to take pictures of the main altar of Shitennoji Temple. Some very obvious similarities are that both Asakusa's Kannon Temple and Shitennoji Temple have a 5-story pagoda which is the structure that stands out the most on both temples, and both of them has the same statues right at the gate.

Osaka Japan Shitennoji TempleAnother main difference between the two temples are that admission to Asakusa's Kannon Temple is free while you have to pay 300jpy to get in the main temple of Shitennoji. We find this kinda weird because they are both Buddhist Temples but the other charges for admission and the other let's people in free. We are not that interested enough to find out why so we don't bother checking online, we just really find it weird. There is nothing much going on in Shitennoji Temple's surroundings while right next to Asakusa's Kannon Temple is Nakamise Shopping Arcade which maybe another reason why it is more popular than Shitennoji Temple.

Osaka Japan Shitennoji TempleIt was still hot and humid when we wanted to go back to the train station to go to our next destination so instead of bearing the heat of the sun again, we chose to ride a cab back to the station. The 660jpy minimum cab fare was well worth it. We want to thank the cab driver too wherever he may be for still bringing us to the station knowing that all he will get is the minimum fare. In the Philippines, it is the law that cab drivers can not reject passengers but a lot of them still does it.

Osaka Japan Osaka Castle
It looks near but it is still a mile to go with uphill climbs
and hundreds of steps going up some concrete stairs,
add the warm weather makes it a real challenge
From Tennoji Station, we hopped on the JR Osaka Loop Line to get to Osaka Castle. It is not hard to determine which station you need to alight at to get to Osaka Castle since the name of the station itself is Osakajokoen which means "Osaka Castle Park". Osakajokoen Station is highly elevated so we looked around to check if Osaka castle is on sight: no luck. This was expected because we did our research but we really had no idea that it was that far. Again, as stated on the first paragraph of this article, when you are in Japan and someone told you that your destination is pretty near and walkable, expect it to be far.

Osaka Japan Osaka CastleIt is no joke how long of a walk is Osaka Castle from Osakajokoen Station that some tourists think that it is almost misleading to name the station Osaka Castle Park. However, if your stay in Japan is long enough and you have been to a number of places, you will soon find out that it really is just walking distance for them. But to let you know how much of a challenge it was to walk to Osaka Castle from the station, we had to take three 10-minute breaks as we walked. Again, maybe it is the warm weather or the number of steep uphill walks and stairs we had to climb or the fact that we were still tired from the Tennoji Station to Shitennoji Temple walk earlier that day.

Osaka Japan Osaka CastleOnce the castle was on our sight, we just had to sit on a bench in the park right across it and stare at it. At that time, we were asking ourselves if the walk was worth it to just be able to look and take a picture of the castle. And as tired as we are, we ordered a huge bowl of udon noodles, bought a couple of large cups of iced Calpis(a really refreshing Japanese soft drink) from a vending machine, and bought some sweet pastries at the food court near the castle.

Osaka Japan Osaka CastleOsaka Japan Osaka Castle